PALAVA CITY is India’s first integrated Greenfield smart city being developed by the Lodha Group and managed by Palava City Management Association. Located at the junction of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan, Palava is home to over 29,000 families and a population of more than 60,000. Apart from the dense green cover, state of the art design and high end security, the city boasts of good social infrastructure. It offers its citizens two ICSE schools, high-quality sports facilities, one 9-hole golf course, a five lakh square feet retail space and community spaces. The city has been recently voted as the most liveable private township. Prateek Shukla of BW SmartCities talks to Shaishav Dharia – Regional CEO, Lodha Group, about the planning, and administration and challenges of running the city.
Palava city is branded as “India’s most liveable city”. What are the features you have added to the township which qualifies it for the city for the tag? At Palava, we have tried to incorporate a life where the citizens enjoy economic and social stability, so much so that Palava has become one of the fastest growing cities on such a large scale. This success can be attributed to the CCTV model, an ideology devised for Palava which stands for citizens, community, technology, and vision. We are making investments in various areas to spur economic development making walk to work a reality in Palava – the aim is to achieve 1 job per household by 2025. We have made Palava’s infrastructure sustainable which reduces dependence on external sources, provides 24×7 access to key civic services at affordable costs and is planned far in advance to fulfil the growing needs of the city.
Palava City: Smart, Green And Self Sustainable Cities
Initiatives like smart water meters and fiber connectivity have been rolled out to reduce water wastage through smart meter monitoring, recycling waste water, city’s asset management, provision of high speed internet access in all areas of the city and real time monitoring of the entire city for quick preventive actions, respectively. The city’s master plan is designed keeping walkability in focus- one that has basic amenities such as schools, clubs, hospital, retail outlets and parks within a 5-minute walking distance; thus encouraging a car-free environment and reducing pollution. Sustainability as a factor is further taken care of as over 60 per cent of the total area is dedicated to open spaces, out of which 25 per cent is set aside for parks and recreation activities. Rain water harvesting is also practised in this city which helps in maintaining the level of ground water and ensuring water supply for the citizens. This has resulted in Palava becoming a community where almost every want and need of the citizen is taken care of, which has been well evidenced by JLL ranking Palava the No.1 livable city in their recent report on- Livability Quotient – A Paradigm Shift in India’s Emerging Cities”. How do plan to accommodate a green environment with hi-tech residential and commercial buildings? The greater focus at Palava has always been to build an integrated and smart city with sufficient open and green spaces; an essential part of a sustainable development. At Palava over 60 per cent of the 4500 acre development is dedicated to open spaces; with over 25 per cent set aside for parks, playing fields and recreation grounds. Over and above which the plan is to further add 2 lac trees within the city. The city has also enabled programs such as ‘Go Green’ initiative to encourage citizen participation for neighbourhood upkeep. The focus of this activity is to revive the green belt of the city in wake of increasing air pollution that is affecting the liveability of Mumbai and the health of millions, including many other initiatives. Here We are aiming to encourage a car-free environment and reduce pollution, the city has shuttle buses and carpool services for daily commuting and dedicated bicycle tracks to ride through its neighbourhood. The city practices rain water harvesting, maintains the essential level of groundwater and ensures water availability for its citizens. Services such as 311 and 611 assist citizens with their daily requests and requirements.
There are decentralized Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) for smaller clusters to recycle and reuse wastewater for non-potable use. As a result, today Palava is home to over 21,000 trees, of which 5,000 trees was planted by its citizens during the Go Green initiative last year and has an Air Quality Index (AQI) between 50 -70 which is at least three times better than top Indian cities. And by incorporating sustainable features like water waste management the city aims to achieve 70 per cent water neutrality by 2022. Do you think integrated townships can be the answer to mitigate urbanization issues? Currently, the situation in India is such that the realty demand is high and the supply is quite low,also due to a small base of the organized real estate sector. In this context, the development of townships becomes all the more important as they are not only capable of meeting the housing shortage but also enhance its quality. Moreover, with budget announcements for affordable housing, it has become lucrative option to venture in. Townships have become a major contributor in addressing the city’s urbanizing issues. Cities on such huge scale help in meeting the infrastructural demand and also act as a catalyst for development of the surrounding area, while distributing the increasing urban population. With workplace and residence located at one place, retail space for one’s daily necessities, medical help a step away, schools and day care centres for children, sports facilities for an active life, low maintenance charges and ensured and reliable high level of security, the integrated development augurs well to the need of all the individuals in a family. Hence, it becomes imperative to develop housing in the form of townships as one is able to access all the facilities within a specific area and save travelling time of an individual (which is 12 hours a week according to studies). So serving as an attractive solution to decentralize the urban population, townships are the best models to accelerate any areas economic activity.
The administrative layer is the key to success for smart cities. What are the challenges that Palava City Management Association is facing? Building a 4500 acre development comes with its own set of challenges. From making the land contiguous to sketching a master plan for the city to survive throughout its life, we have faced all and successfully contented these challenges with recent one being- how to maintain and govern such a big development and ensure participative governance of the citizens. For this we created a non for profit organization called Palava City Management Association (PCMA). The City Council will have members, representatives from amongst the citizens of the city along with experts in city management and urban planners where the body will be responsible for everything from ensuring 24×7 power and water to the formulation of city policies and providing high-quality but cost-effective services. For now PCMA has well served the purpose. What are the steps that you are taking to ensure the safety and security of residents? The objective is to provide responsive, smart and integrated security processes with special focus on women and children’s security. Smart elements like an integrated 24/7 command centre and CCTV surveillance
have helped reduce emergency response time. Lift/fire alarms, panic booth systems, dedicated 911 helpline number have aided in quicker identification of emergency events and provide additional data like location, time etc. to help resolve issues. Furthermore, the command centre provides an integrated view of all incidents in the city which helps the command centre team to predict and prevent issues that could affect quality of life, encompassing health, education, traffic and transportation, emergencies. Quick provision resources to resolve an issue, monitor health of key city functions and improve efficiency of services also act as the repository of data to track the performance on past events. What is your waste management plan for the city? Smart city enablers across domains for Palava have explored and identified processes which will significantly enhance the quality of life of the residents. Separate bins are provided at various locations in the city for recyclable and nonrecyclable waste. Additionally, a dedicated large-scale solid waste transfer station and processing plant is being set-up to convert all organic waste into manure or biogas for electricity generation. By 2020, the expectation is that the biogas plant in Palava will generate 600 KWH of electricity per day which is equivalent to a 0.2 MW power plant. Palava has deployed GE’s state-of-the-art ZeeWeed Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology, for sewage andwaste-water treatment and reuse. This provides the city the ability to recover and reuse a significant quantity of water for applications such as gardening, flushing, floor and car washing, water landscapes and HVAC. The system is a substantial step in reducing dependency on external sources and making the city self-sustainable for water needs. The GE system is integrated with the Command Center to enable operations team to monitor critical parameters like tank levels, pump status, turbidity levels, etc. and ensure proper functioning of the STPs. Automated alerts are generated if any of these parameters cross predefined threshold levels enabling the team to ensure consistent and high quality water supply from the STPs.